Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest

Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest

Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest

Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest

Synopsis

These collected myths and tales of the Indians of the Pacific Northwest - the Klamath, Nez Perce, Tillamook, Modoc, Shastan, Chinook, Flathead, Clatsop, and other tribes - were first published in 1910. Here are their stories concerning the creation of the universe, the theft of fire and daylight, the death and rebirth of salmon, and, especially, the formation of such geographical features as The Dalles, the Columbia River, the Yukon River, and Mounts Shasta, Hood, Rainier, Baker, and Adams.

Excerpt

This entertaining sampler brings together stories from all over Native North America. The majority are from northern California, where the Klamath, Shastan, and Pit Rivers (Atsugewi, Achomawi) still live. Only the Cowlitz, Klickitat, Yakima, and Okanogan are in Washington State, while the Tillamook and Modoc are in Oregon. The Chinook, including the Clatsop, occupied the lower Columbia River, the border between these two states.

Katharine Berry Judson, the compiler, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and received a B.A. from Cornell in 1904, before earning a librarianship degree in 1905 and an M.A. in history at the University of Washington in 1911. Between these dates, she was a librarian in Kalispell, Montana, for a year and then head of periodicals for the Seattle Public Library, where she assembled four collections of native stories.

As she explains, these stories were collected during her quest to find an "authentic" native version of the story of the bridge of the gods, a stone span across the Columbia that collapsed in punishment for some thwarted love. It is symptomatic of European attitudes toward Native Americans that she did not stop to realize that stone bridges were never a part of local native technology. Similarly, she treats all natives as though they lived in tipis, wore leather clothing, and called their women squaws. Such stereotypes are, of course, derogatory because they deny the complex richness of native life. In particular, photo captions calling attention to grave goods (facing page 77) or blaming the Whitman massacre solely on victimized Cayuse (facing page 103) are no longer acceptable.

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